Chapter 1 : Run
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You stop for a second to bend over, clutching a stitch in your side. Your short gasps of breath form small clouds of fog in front of you. You wish you could rest for longer, but it’s time to start running again. The rhythmic pounding of your feet echoes like thunder in your head. “Not much farther now,” you think to yourself, repressing the ache of your bones and the throbbing tightness of your muscles as they plead with you to give in to the strain. You rebel against them, urging them to cooperate, just a while longer - just till you get to safety. You picture the warmth of his arms; the image of it is your only solace.
One two three four, one two three four. You pace yourself. Thud thud thud thud, thud thud thud thud. Your footfalls are your only companion, only your panic driving you on. The canopy forms a dark tunnel over your head, the leaves whispering to each other about your plight. Onwards, you run. A knot forms in your chest, you draw ragged breaths, the intensity of the situation sets into you. Your wand pokes your ribs, just a mere stick lying in the pocket of your coat. You run.
A slightly slurred voice breaks the silence, closer than you expect. “Darling, come back here now. There’s no point running. You will do as I say.”
You’re almost there. You run faster, trying to put as much distance between yourself and him. You run. Away from your own father.
It was around twilight. Your parents called you into the sitting room in order to talk to you about something of utmost importance. You sat on the couch facing them, your attention diverted to the memory of the interesting looking herbs that you had found earlier that day. You were determined to assess their properties and figure out what they could be used for.
“Rowena, are you listening to us?” Your father’s stern voice cut into your deep speculation.
You hastily sat up, neatly brushing down your skirt as you did so, and put on the most attentive expression possible, waiting expectantly for your parents to address you.
“Pay attention now, I can’t keep repeating myself,” your mother stated.
“Yes Mother,” you replied, meekly. You tried to not let your eyes wander to the lone insect that was buzzing around the top of her perfectly pinned up bun.
“It is befitting of a woman of your age to marry into a respectable family. Your father and I have found a suitable young Lord for you who lives just a little a-ways into town, in the most handsome stone mansion.”
“Marry?” you echoed. “But Mother! I don’t want to get married to this man. I don’t even know him! And besides, I am only sixteen!”
“Quiet down, Rowena. Do not raise your voice against your mother like that,” your father remarked, pouring himself a glass of wine as he did so, the deep burgundy liquor sloshing against the sides. You diverted your eyes to the distasteful drink, trying to hide your horrified expression, while a part of your mind estimated the number of glasses required for that concentration of alcohol to take its toll on the human system.
“It has been decided,” your father continued, taking a large gulp of the wine. “You will marry Lord Ravenclaw in two fortnights' time. Your mother will make the arrangements and take care of the details.”
“Hush, sweetheart. No buts. We are only doing what is best for you. I will take you to meet the Lord tomorrow, after which I will take you to the seamstress to get your wedding gown fitted. You shall not be permitted to leave the house after tomorrow, as there are a lot more things to be taken care of and your help shall be needed,” your mother said. “Come now, let me brush your hair and you can go to bed.”
As soon as she left you to the privacy of your room, you picked up your magnificent eagle feather quill, and penned a letter to your lover.
I have the most pressing matter to discuss. My parents are planning my marriage to a Lord Ravenclaw, and it is to take place exactly eight and twenty days from now. I urge you to come and speak with my parents and usher them to consider you as a suitor, for I just cannot accept to marry that man. Not when I am in love with you, my dear Salazar.
But we must make haste. After tonight, there is nothing that can be done, for the wedding arrangements begin from tomorrow and I will be nothing more than a prisoner in my own home!
I await your reply and hope to see you soon.
With all my love,
You sat at the window, staring at the spot where your trusted owl had flown out of your view. You hummed a tune under your breath and your fingers lightly tapped against the wood of your desk as you anxiously awaited Salazar’s reply. You were sure that it would be quick in coming, for he lived just a couple of streets away.
Hours passed. There was no letter.
You tiptoed downstairs, your toes bare, blushes of pink against the light carpet. The fire burned dimly in the sitting room, casting long, dancing black shapes on the opposite wall. You quickly wore your shoes, taking care not to make any loud noises, fearful of waking your parents. You slipped on your coat and turned the knob, wincing as the door creaked on its hinges as it opened.
“Where do you think you’re going, young lady?”
Your father got up from a low armchair, seeming menacing as his strapping form blocked out the light from the glowing embers. His eyes were unfocused, hollow in their cavities, the shadows under them more pronounced than ever.
“I will be back soon, Father,” you told him, keeping your voice level and your chin high.
“I asked you where you are going.” The crystal gleamed in his hand as he downed the rest of his drink in a single mouthful. The bottle clattered loudly against the glass, as he unsteadily poured yet some more wine into it.
“Not far, Father. I am just going to visit a friend. I won’t be long, I promise,” you replied.
“At this time of the night?” His nostrils flared as he observed you, his eyes like a hawk, piercing through your skin. He tossed back the glass, swallowing the rich liquid in one gulp. “You are not going anywhere,” he said. “Lock the door and go back to your room. We will talk about your behavior tomorrow.” His voice was quavering.
You felt your heart sink to the very end of your feet. An urgent desperation overcame you as you stood rooted to the spot, your mind buzzing with various possibilities and options. But one thing was clear. You could not go back to your room and let things progress in this manner. You had to meet Salazar, to make things right.
“I’m sorry, Father. I have to go,” you told him in a small voice and swiftly departed, the ends of your coat fluttering behind you. A resounding crash was heard from within the house, unmistakably the sound of a bit of furniture toppling over. You did not stop to glance back, sure that your father would be on your tail soon. He was not one to be taken lightly, even on his good days, and with him being only partly sober, you were quite fearful of your well being. Nothing would make you turn back. You were determined to take your future in your hands and marry the man of your dreams. And with that thought in your mind, you fled.
You bang frantically against the huge wooden door, putting every ounce of energy left in your reserves, into that one constant motion. The door suddenly swings open as startled looking Salazar appears, wand held out, and his stance cautious. Even in his frazzled state he looks majestic and incredibly handsome, with the slight stubble studding his chin, and his dark, alert eyes glinting in the darkness, reflecting the meager light from his wand.
“Rowena? What are you doing here at this time of the night?” he asks in surprise, noticing your tired appearance and anxiously darting eyes. You throw your arms around him and cry into his shoulder, your frustration mingling with the joy of seeing him.
“Come, let us go inside,” he mutters, drawing you into the warmth, all the while holding onto your exhausted form.
“Wait,” you say quietly. “My father was following me. He...he isn’t in the right state of mind.”
Salazar looks at you in concern. “Did he hurt you? Why was he following you?” His eyes rake over your body, searching for signs of injury.
“No, I got away, came here. I needed to talk to you. You didn’t get my owl, so I had to come. He followed me because I disobeyed him.” You shake with sobs, making your speech incoherent. “I didn’t know what to do. I.. You need to go..go talk to him. Do something. Make him...I can’t handle him when he’s like this. Please, please could you go and handle it?” Your hands clutch the front of his robe as you quickly rattle off the words in one breath.
“Shh. Go inside and don’t worry. I’ll handle him,” he says, stroking your hair. You nod, wiping your tears and do as he said while he slips out the door.
This is the first time you’ve come to his house. It is completely made of stone, and is lit by lanterns, casting a dim glow over the entire area. There are various archways, each the entrance to a long corridor. You step forward and find yourself in a huge sitting area, furnished with the most comfortable looking armchairs and a beautiful ornate table. Deep green tapestries hang against the wall, recording the history of the Slytherin family. You feel yourself relax in the environment, confident that Salazar would make things right. He is one year older than you are, thereby of age and allowed to live alone, as well as do magic whenever he pleases. You hear a sharp hiss which makes you jump out of your skin, letting out a small shriek.
“Don’t worry.” You hear Salazar’s cool voice behind you as he returns. “That’s just Balthazar, my familiar. I’ve told you about him.” He proceeds to make a strangled hissing noise, unmistakeably talking in the Parseltongue dialect. “He knows who you are now. You don’t have to be afraid.”
Balthazar comes slithering out from one of the dark corners, his green scales wondrous to the eye, mesmerizing you.
“He’s beautiful,” you mutter. “He’s a green mamba, if I remember correctly. Am I right?”
“He says thank you,” Salazar tells you with a light laugh. “And yes you are. It’s nice to know that you pay attention to me.”
“Of course I pay attention to you!” you exclaim, wrapping your arms around his neck. "Where's my father? Were you able to handle him in that state?"
"Stop worrying so much," he mutters back.
As you look into his eyes, you know that you made the right decision. He leans in to give you a kiss, his lips cool against yours. You feel the deep throes of passion start to kindle within your depths. He pulls away suddenly, and taking you by the hand, tugs you deeper into the house until you enter a magnificent courtyard. The sliver of a crescent moon shines a spotlight into the dark recesses of the square plot, illuminating every spot to give a magical radiance.
“Dance with me,” you tell him softly, leaning against him.
All your troubles are forgotten for a few perfect moments as you gently glide together, perfectly in sync.
He looks at you with an unconcealed hunger in his eyes. Without warning, he sweeps you against a nearby pillar, crushing your mouth against his. You gasp as his touch against your skin makes you feel unparalleled delight. His fingers trail across your shoulder, sliding the sleeve of your coat off, revealing the flushed skin underneath. Goosebumps erupt over your sensitive skin as your breath becomes shallow. Your heart races as your pupils dilate and your lips part, waiting in anticipation for him to ravish you, to love you.
“Salazar,” you say, huskily.
“I love you,” he murmurs back, slowly pulling away. “You will regret this later if we continue.”
You look at him with pure adoration. It is only a man of great depth of character who can resist the throes of passion to protect the virtue of his beloved.
“I really should be getting back. It is not wise to antagonize my parents, especially not my father. I have already crossed the limit with him. You will come over in the morning, won’t you Salazar?” you say.
“Why were you running from your father in the first place? Did he hurt you?” he asks, his expression a mixture of confusion and concern.
You blink, suddenly realizing that he still hadn’t read the letter.
“No, I am not hurt. Not physically at least. Salazar, do you mind checking whether Cleopatra is in your room? I sent her here with a letter.”
“I will be just a moment,” he replies, and swiftly moves away through a corridor.
You take in the scent of the roses, a light breeze stirring the tips of the soft grass, and a small smile creeps across your face. ‘Everything is going to work out,’ you think, calmness overcoming you. ‘Salazar and I will marry, hopefully in that little church beside the moor. It will be a small wedding, with just our dear ones in attendance. And together, we can go explore the recesses of the world, discover new branches of magic, and teach them to willing young students who are eager to learn.’ You lie down on the grass, the light dew pleasantly cooling you through your coat.
You look up as you hear a shuffling sound beside you. Salazar approaches, his eyes perusing your hastily written words on the parchment. “Cleo is asleep in my room,” he says. “She was perched on the sill, roosting, for she must have arrived when I had turned in for the night.”
He sits down beside you, and raises his eyebrows. “I know this Lord Ravenclaw. He’s a pleasant man. He’s rich and comes from a Pureblood family. Are you sure you don’t want to marry him?” His tone is even, but you can sense his uncertainty below the layers.
“I want to marry you, Salazar. I do not love that man. That is why I came to you. I do hope you will come in the morning to speak with my parents.” You touch the side of his face gently, thrilled at the thought of becoming the wife of this stately man. “I never did ask you,” you continue. “What did you do to make my father see sense? What did you tell him?”
“See sense?” he repeats slowly.
“Well, yes. He wasn’t going to let me come here. How did you get him to leave?”
Salazar remains silent; a deep furrow creases his forehead.
“Salazar, why aren’t you saying anything?”
It is a silence that could pierce glass.
You gape at him, as a dull dread begins to deepen its grip on you.
“Salazar,” you whisper, getting to your feet. “What did you do?”
His deadpan gaze is unwavering, fixated upon a single spot on the stone wall. You do not know what to make of his expression. You do not know this man, this statue sitting still.
“You..you,” your voice falters as realization begins to sink in. “You can’t have. Salazar... please, tell me you didn’t.”
Stony faced, he stares, his gaze still stuck on the same spot on the opposite wall.
For how long you stand there, looking at him in disbelief, you do not know. He does nothing to pierce the augmented silence.
You cannot hold it in any longer.
“You killed him,” you state, your voice no more than a mere whisper. It is the truth. You know it.
There must be some reason. It must have been an accident. You know that your father could be rash and violent, even when not of a proper mind.
“Why, Salazar?” you ask him again, hoping, praying, that the answer would abate your apprehensions.
“You needed me to take care of him,” he finally spoke, monotonously, as though he were merely stating a fact.
“I needed you to talk sense into him. Why did you kill him?” Tears begin to leak out the corners of your eyes.
Salazar looks at you in confusion. He does not understand why you are so distraught. He does not see the reason for your pain. He does not think that his actions were preposterous.
A heavy silence prevails once again, as he ponders your question.
He looks up at you, his thoughts clear.
“He was a mudblood,” he states.
That is all there is to it. That is his reason, nothing else. Nothing to suggest an accident, nothing that could make it seem acceptable. You can see that his belief is deeply rooted. There is nothing that will make him realize that he is wrong. Nothing. Not even you.
You stagger back, looking at him in plain disbelief.
And not for the first time, you run.
Seven years later
“This momentous day marks the beginning of the Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I, Godric Gryffindor, shall take in any magical child, in whose veins run the most important virtues of bravery and courage.”
“I, Helga Hufflepuff, will not be picky. Any young student who wishes to learn, and is hardworking and loyal, shall be given a place here, in my house.”
“I, Rowena Ravenclaw, will make Hogwarts the finest wizarding school in Britain by taking in those students of highest intellect,” you say clearly.
“And I, Salazar Slytherin, will accept the students of purest blood, in order to not taint the prestige of this magnificent school.”
Your eyes meet his for the first time in seven years. They are warm, those pools of dark grey. You suppress the familiar feeling of desire that is sparked in those few moments, and turn away, never to look into his eyes again. You know nothing has changed.
A/N: And there it is. My first Founders fic. This is for ReeBee without whom I wouldn't have completed this.
I would love to know your thoughts on this, so please leave a review below. :)
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